A jasmine for winter. Épice Sauvage by Ayala Moriel Parfums

 

Merging jasmine with winter might seem counterintuitive as this heady, warmblooded flower feels so sultry and lush against the heat of the summer sun. Pairing it with a chill in the air seemed odd to me and it wasn’t until last December that I realized jasmine’s power to soothe and comfort during winter’s frost. It was Aftelier’s Fig that showed me jasmine’s ability to assuage the doldrums of cold rainy day after cold rainy day. Its blend of fir and fig is a jammy alpine enchantment, and I am pleased to say that jasmine’s winter-appropriateness does not end there.


Épice Sauvage by Ayala Moriel Parfums is somewhat gourmand in its treatment of jasmine, as it delves into culinary spices like cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and clove. Interestingly, jasmine grandiflorum was chosen rather than jasmine sambac which initially surprised me. I thought the spicy nature of jasmine sambac to be the obvious choice for this spice laden perfume, but Ayala in her great wisdom and talent chose jasmine grandiflorum which as it turns out, was the perfect choice. I’ll tell you why in a bit.


First, let me explain why Épice Sauvage feels so cozy. I love to bake with cardamom, especially in cookies, so its scent feels homey and nurturing. Of course it elicits images of spice markets as well, but cardamom’s comforting, homebody aspect is very strong to me. In Ayurvedic cooking, cardamom is a warming spice that balances all three doshas which are the elements that determine our physical, mental and emotional characteristics. I don’t adhere to Ayurvedic principles on a routine basis, but I’m pretty sure my dosha is vata for many reasons. Most relevant to this discussion is my preference for summer, so cardamom’s sweet, warm, and activating qualities are immensely welcome this time of year.


Upon first smelling Épice Sauvage, I knew I would love it. Cinnamon introduces the fragrance with a whisper of sweetness and foreshadows the emergence of cardamom as the central spicy focus. And here’s why jasmine grandiflorum was such a brilliant pick, it’s rounder and more voluminous than jasmine sambac which has a spicy tone that might have competed with cardamom’s flavor. With the grandiflorum species, cardamom is given the opportunity to provide Épice Sauvage itspiquancy while the jasmine offers up its lush floral heart.


Cardamom dominates the heart of Épice Sauvage, but as the drydown comes into reach, coriander has an important role as well. This spice is a little earthy and peppery, with a suggestion of woods which plays nicely with the cedar note that reveals itself in the basenotes. But let us not forget jasmine as it continues to support all of these essences. Such a compliant floral foundation for the ofttimes unruly jasmine! In the drydown, its blossoms fully coalesce with cardamom which allows the cedar and coriander to hover over and ultimately permeate the fragrance.


After 3-4 hours of wear, a 2nd drydown occurs, one that is very intimate and oh so pretty. It’s pure jasmine, like the moment the blossom begins to open to the night air. It’s the nascent fragrance of a jasmine, dipped for a brief moment in warm honey and rose blossoms. I can’t think of a better way to revel in jasmine’s winter radiance.


Ayala Moriel Parfums are 100% natural and made with loving care by Ayala Sender. Épice Sauvage is available at AyalaMoriel.com, starting at $48 for a mini to $120 for a 9ml Parfum Extrait Flacon.

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: This sample of Épice Sauvage was my own purchase. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
image: Heart of Snow by Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914) at artmagick.com

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White Potion. A Tropical Beauty by Ayala Moriel Parfums

Tropical florals like tuberose, gardenia, and jasmine can easily overwhelm a perfume with their intense headiness. Sometimes the intensity is beautifully crafted, such as in Fracas, but that iconic tuberose perfume is challenging for many people to wear and still feel like they are in their own skin. Ayala Sender, the nose behind Ayala Moriel Parfums offers White Potion as an alternative to ostentatious white floral perfumes.


White Potion is creamy and tender, as if the milky petals of tuberose, jasmine and gardenia are melding with your skin. Tuberose stands out more than the other florals, but not by much. As is typical for Ayala’s fragrances, White Potion is so well blended and balanced that all the notes sing harmoniously with each other. These diva flowers don’t elbow each other off the stage. They perform in concert, and very smoothly.


Coconut, along with tuberose, peers out of the composition just a shade more than the others allowing for the creamy, silky feel of White Potion. My experience of White Potion has been more sensual and soothing than bright and cheery, especially on this rainy day in the Northwest. With its undercurrent of sandalwood and rosewood, this fragrance has woody roots that gently tame the wanton potentness of the white petaled blossoms. In the final moments of White Potion, tonka bean adds a nutty flavor creating a more playful vibe. The ending serves me well as I always like to leave party while I’m still having fun.


White Potion is very wearable, and the perfect perfume for someone who wants to venture into tropical territory for the first time, or for that collector who has yet to come across a gardenia/tuberose/jasmine “skin scent” that does not possess musk. As with all of Ayala’s creations, White Potion is 100% natural and made in small batches to ensure quality and freshness. Ayala also donates proceeds from her perfumes to organizations that support people with Autism, Peace Organizations, and her latest project to help save the Bloedel Floral Conservatory in Vancouver BC. Additionally, Ayala Moriel Parfums does not perform animal testing, or use ingredients that have been tested on animals or that have been involved in animal cruelty such as musk, castoreum, whale-harvested ambergris and civet.


White Potion is available at the Ayala Moriel Parfumes Website.



 

Posted by ~Trish

Tuberose image from makeupandbeautyblog.com
Disclosure: A sample of White Potion was sent to me by Ayala Moriel Parfums. It was many months ago, so I can’t remember if it was included as a sample from one of my orders or if she sent it to me to review. Regardless, the opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Gabriel's Aunt Venasque and Bohem

This review continues my exploration of natural perfumes from Gabriel’s Aunt. Last week I wrote about Royal Couple, a radiant and sultry rose/jasmine duo that comes in both a cream perfume solid and a candle. Today, I will focus on two of her roll-on perfumes, one that also features jasmine, but from a different perspective.


Venasque is an homage to the lavender and chocolate loving Southern French town by the same name, and uses jasmine in the top notes to enhance the experience. One would not smell Venasque and think, “my what a fabulous jasmine scent”, as it’s decidedly a lavender based perfume. But this lavender is fuller than usual as jasmine melds into the purple buds, enhancing its herbaceous essence with a juicy floral lift. Lovers of lavender will appreciate the lushness that Venasque brings to the plant which can oftentimes be dry and crisp.


A dusting of cocoa powder lands gently on Venasque after an hour, meeting the expectations set by the perfume’s back-story. Lavender continues to be the star of this fragrant experience, therefore it doesn’t become a lavender infused chocolate truffle (which sounds really tasty come to think of it!). Venasque is more like a lavender field that has been nourished by dark chocolate in its soil. The rich, bittersweetness effortlessly evolves as jasmine receeds. A judicious use of patchouli adds to this earthy imagery. As with Venasque’s jasmine, it’s the suggestion of patchouli that enhances the richness of the chocolate and the herbal aroma of the lavender.


Even though the drydown is similar to the delightful vanillic ending of Royal Couple, I wholeheartedly recommend men try Venasque as well as women. I happen to be a lover of lavender, so Venasque is a perfume I would reach for again and again. I already have two lavender favorites, Roxana Illuminated Perfumes’ Vera and Ajne’s deLavande, but Venasque rounds out the collection beautifully. Both of those fragrances lean more powdery and cozy, while Venasque is an amplified, aromatic lavender with a gourmand flavor.


Bohem, GA’s best selling fragrance of 2009, resides in the spicy-incense realm with its allspice and cedarwood blend. In addition, vetiver, patchouli and tobacco give a good deal of body to Bohem, most notably being vetiver. I thoroughly appreciate vetiver’s ability to provide a smoked earth quality while simultaneously allowing the surrounding essences their full glory.


The heart of Bohem becomes a little sweeter as cassie and davana lend a honeyed, fruity glow to the incense swirling on your skin. Tobacco and the allspice aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves infuse the smoke from beginning to end which like Venasque, would smell wonderful on either a woman or a man.


Nikki Sherritt, the woman behind Gabriel’s Aunt, is a bit of a dark horse in the world of natural perfumery. She flies under the radar, probably because she is more well-known for her candles, but should receive due recognition for her artistic hand in blending natural perfumes. Nikki has samples for sale on her site, and I encourage you to experience them for yourselves.


Venasque and Bohem are available on the Gabriel’s Aunt website. $38 for a 1/4 oz roll-on.

You can read Ayala Sender’s review of both Bohem the fragrance and the candle on SmellyBlog.


Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: Samples from Gabriel’s Aunt were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Image of Venasque, France from TravelWebshots

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Gabriel's Aunt Royal Couple, Jasmine and Rose Bliss

Gabriel’s Aunt (GA) isn’t entirely new to me. Nikki Sherritt, the creator of GA’s natural candles and perfumes, also pours candles for Ayala Moriel Parfums. I adore Ayala’s White Potion candle, so I figured I should give Nikki’s concoctions a try as well. I wasn’t expecting to be as crazy as I am over GA’s scents. In fact, after I wore the perfume samples Nikki sent me for a couple days, I promptly went to her etsy site and ordered some candles figuring if her perfumes were this good, her candles must be as well.


I will review everything I bought and was given by GA over the next few days (or weeks) but I wanted to start with Royal Couple, a heavenly combination of jasmine and rose that comes in both a cream perfume solid and a candle. Nikki describes her cream perfume solids as having just one or two essences in them to encourage layering. Yet Royal Couple’s short list of jasmine and rose belies its complex bouquet and is entirely lovely on its own.


After smoothing the perfume solid on my wrists and neck, I was reveling in thick and juicy jasmine petals…of the indolic jasmine grandiflorum variety. It’s a potent jasmine, but not so intense that it chokes the wearer or those around you. Rose was not a part of this jasmine-fest at the outset, but slowly made its way onto my skin, along with a spicy jasmine sambac development. I don’t know what jasmine Nikki uses for her Royal Couple blend, maybe it is a combination of the two. Regardless, the evolution of Royal Couple from heady and densely floral to a more piquant yet refined jasmine, was unforeseen and welcomed.


The drydown was equally delicious because I love a well-done vanillic floral base. Only Nikki knows if there’s a touch of vanilla (or maybe benzoin?) in Royal Couple, and if there isn’t she’s got a magic touch with the raw local beeswax she uses in her perfume solids. Organic coconut, jojoba and sweet almond oils are also used in the solids, making them a pleasure to apply to the skin. The scent has excellent longevity and I am seriously elated that Royal Couple is also offered in a candle.


GA’s candles are soy based, made with locally grown, Non-GMO soywax. Nikki never uses soy/paraffin blends which allows for clean and environmentally sound candle enjoyment. And like her perfumes, the candles are made with 100% all natural essences. The Royal Couple candle is a nice accompaniment to the solid perfume, as the rose essence flourishes with heat. It’s a freshly cut rose that is very full, thanks to the support of jasmine. As I began writing this post last night, I had the perfume solid on my skin, the candle burning beside me and I felt like I was in a royal garden filled with the freshest of jasmine and rose blossoms. It was bliss.


Royal Couple Essence Cream Perfume Solid is $25 for .85oz/25ml and the Royal Couple Candle is $29 for 8oz glass holder. Gabriel’s Aunt is also available at etsy.

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample of Royal Couple Cream Perfume Solid was provided for this review by Gabriel’s Aunt. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
“Madagascar Jasmine” at art.com

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D.S. & Durga: Siberian Snow

My maternal grandfather made my grandmother a cedar chest when they were fifteen years old. He had the interior quilted and lined at a funeral parlor which I find both fascinating and macabre. (Where else would you have that sort of thing done I wonder?) Both of my grandparents are dead now, all of them are actually, or should I say they have “passed on”? My eight year old son asked me recently what “passed away” means. After I told him he said that it seems like a more peaceful way to say “dead”. I guess euphemisms aren’t as insubstantial as I had allowed myself to believe.


The faint smell of cedar lingers when you open the chest, and I can only imagine how potent it was eighty years ago. Lifting the lid used to reveal the dusty rose colored layers of remaining fabric that blended seamlessly with the wood’s pinkish tones. The satiny quilted lining became increasingly tattered and has since been removed as my mom had the chest refurbished many years ago. The restoration has created a new chest in appearance, but it still holds many memories, both cherished and painful.


When I first sprayed Siberian Snow on my skin, I immediately thought of my grandmother’s handmade treasury. Not that the perfume smells exactly like the chest, more like what I want my fragrance memory to be of the chest; cedar, wintergreen and jasmine. The D.S. & Durga website has frankincense listed rather than cedar, but you could have fooled me. Cedar it is in my mind.


Wintergreen opens the fragrance and remains an undercurrent throughout the Siberian Snow experience. The mintiness has a multi-layered effect that was unexpected and intriguing. Initially the wintergreen was enlivening, and then evolved into a familiar, comfortable feeling. My dad loved to have WintOGreen LifeSavers at the ready when my sister and I were growing up, which probably explains my nostalgia for the wintergreen scent. But it also added a quirkiness to the otherwise traditional woody floral composition of jasmine and cedar. (I mean, frankincense). The wintergreen used in Siberian Snow has an attenuated bitterness that tames jasmine’s floral lushness and gives the woody aspect depth and interest so it’s not thin and reedy.


It seems almost meaningless to call a perfume a “woody floral” these days. There are so many out there that they all begin to smell alike. I can assure you that when I say Siberian Snow is an “interesting woody floral” I’m not using that as a euphemism for “it’s just a little better than average”. D.S. and Durga, the creators of their eponymous line, have truly created an interesting woody floral perfume. Not every fragrance is 100% all-natural, but Siberian Snow is, along with Rosa Americana and Cowgirl Grass. And for men, Cowboy Grass, Barbados and Marblehead Reds.


I’m claiming Siberian Snow as my new favorite all-natural cedar fragrance, and D.S. and Durga can rib me a bit if it turns out that there really is no cedar in there after all. It doesn’t matter. My grandmother’s chest has been restored, my son has taught me to embrace euphemisms, and I publish perfume reviews even if I don’t get the notes right.


Siberian Snow is available at DS & Durga

Posted by ~Trish

Photograph by ~Trish
Wintergreen Illustration from Botanical.com

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Daybreak Lavender Farms: Full Body Treatment

Perfume collectors and scent hounds love to discuss the indolic nature of certain perfumes, especially those that contain jasmine. So what exactly does indolic mean? This is very interesting. Indoles are produced by bacteria that are found in human feces, and give it a fecal odor. Indoles are also found in flowers such as jasmine. For instance, pure jasmine oil has about 2.5% indole content, according to the scholarly Wikipedia. Orange blossoms, gardenias, and tuberose are also indolic flowers and depending on the concentration, can lend a voluptuous and sultry redolence to a perfume. But if you’re new to the term and you’re thinking: Perfume can smell like poop? The answer is: not literally. But kind of. Maybe you’ve never noticed it before in your deep jasmine fragrances, but it’s a little like hiking through fecund woods on a muggy summer day and smelling a skunk in the far off distance. Some people are repelled by that scent, while some are drawn to a little earthy skankiness.

 

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Now you’ll know what I mean when I say Daybreak Lavender Farm’s Jasmine is not, let me repeat, not indolic. It is one of the cleanest jasmines I have ever smelled. I’m sure many of you are tired of the exaltation of indolic jasmines, and if you are, this review is for you. Daybreak’s Jasmine, also called Taj Majal, is not of the musky variety either, which makes it quite unique because “clean” typically means “musky”. Their jasmine blend is richly floral, soapy (even when it’s not soap) and elegant. After applying the Taj Majal Body Balm, the word that comes to mind is pure. Pure, because my skin smells of soft jasmine petals without any musk or hint of tangy bodily, ahem, aromas…it’s just clean. I never thought I’d be attracted to such a tropical floral, but I’m drawn to Daybreak’s jasmine on hot days when I don’t want a lot of fussiness.

 

As for the products themselves, I have been duly impressed with their 100% natural ingredients, many of which are organic and grown on their farm. When I placed an order for several skincare items (the By U 4 U Facial Cleanser is wonderful), Jody Byrne, the owner, was very generous to send me a wide variety of Jasmine and Taj Majal body products to sample and these were the stand-outs:

 

My favorite everyday product: Jasmine Flower Shea Butter Soap with 33% Shea Butter comes in a big brick that you cut into bars yourself. I wasn’t sure I’d like the idea of cutting the bars, but now I love it. This allows you to make the soap the size you want, and I’ve also cut off bars and wrapped them up for friends. The soap creates a superb lather, and because it’s made with 33% shea butter, it is very moisturizing. 

 

My new favorite discovery: Jasmine Lovelight Body Candle was a complete novelty for me as I’d never seen anything like it. The candle itself is made from shea and cocoa butters as well as old comb beeswax, so when you light it and the base melts, you can apply it directly to your skin. Let it cool for a few moments, and pour it on! I found that simply dipping my fingers into the melted candle was plenty for moisturizing my hands and arms as the warmed up “candlotion” covers a lot of area. The lovelight body candle would make a perfect gift, and as the name suggests, lends itself to a little romance. 

 

My favorite indulgence: Moisturizing my hands with a luxurious body butter before bed is a favorite ritual of mine, and the Taj Mahal Extra Shot of Moisture Body Balm is a worthy contender. The ingredients include aloe gel, vegetable squalene from olives, unrefined shea butter, pure lanolin, sweet almond, jojoba, beeswax, and honey. Like all Daybreak body products, you get to choose what scent you want. Mysore Sandalwood, Damask Rose, and Lemon Verbena are just a few of the other offerings. I would love to order this in the Sandalwood Vetiver next go around. The texture of the body balm is very thick, smoothes easily over the skin and is readily absorbed.

 

My favorite summertime body spray: Taj Majhal Spray Silk is a spray-on moisturizer that has a refreshingly fine mist and provides a light hydration for your skin. On those hot muggy days when you want a light scent and a cool mist, the clean jasmine bouquet of Taj Majal Spray Silk is ideal. Sweet almond, apricot kernel and wheat germ oils provide the moisturizing ingredients of the Spray Silk, and lavender flower tea provides its invigorating quality, especially if you keep the bottle in the refrigerator as the Daybreak website suggests.

 

Jasmine, be it clean or indolic, may not be your scent preference. Don’t let that stop you from experiencing Daybreak’s wonderful and vast array of  body and skincare offerings. You can also check out Dain’s review of Daybreak’s Rhassoul 5-Piece All-Natural Skin Care System. I too have been using the Rhassoul Complexion Polish along with the Prairie Oat Mint Exfoliating Bar when I want to exfoliate my face and back. Be on the look-out for a more extensive Scent Hive review of those two products in the coming months.

 

Daybreak Lavender Farms; available at their website

 

Posted by ~Trish

Jasmine in Medicine Bottle by opart at etsy.com

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